Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Carrot or Stick?

We were so lucky to have Peter, Kesuma and Saingiore visit us from Tanzania last night.  Peter founded the Orkeeswa School in a rural Maasai village.  My daughter, Allison, taught at the school last year.  It is an incredible place, filled with smart, enthusiastic students.

The big discussion topic last night was people's rights in primary school (Orkeeswa is a Secondary School - only 7% of Tanzanians get to go to secondary school).  Kesuma holds the belief that it is OK for the teachers to cane students.  This is a very common practice in Tanzania, and reminded me of stories of my Catholic School friends.  It sounds a bit harsher and more frequent in Tanzania.  Kesuma believed that it was the right of the teacher, and it made the students do better.

Saingiore held deep reservations about this practice.  He has started to help as a teacher in a primary school, and he does not use the stick.  He did say there was some peer pressure from his colleagues to use the stick and so he put one on his desk in the classroom.  He said the students seemed more attentive when the stick was on the desk.

Peter did a great job in drawing out their feelings and thoughts on this issue.  His core thought was that it totally changes the student-teacher relationship.  Orkeeswa does not allow this practice.  He talked about the need to respect your teacher and not fear your teacher so that you could learn more.  He also pointed out that there was often trouble upon graduation from primary school as there was retribution from students.

I brought up the story we have heard (they had not) of the carrot and the stick as ways to move a donkey forward.  I side with Saingiore in this debate and suggest the carrot is far better than the stick.

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